Welcome to Weekend File, where you’ll find links to all the articles you might have missed last week. Jump to sections in this article:
Saturday, January 8
A Saturday COVID update with a lot of cases. No data on vaccination or hospitalizations, though. Tim Bousquet had more.
Sunday, January 9
In the month since the Omicron variant was confirmed in Nova Scotia, we’ve gone from 20 cases in a day to over 1,000. Stephen Kimber took some time to think about those trying to make sense of it all and make the best decisions for all of us. It’s not always easy, but as Kimber said, “we need to remember just how difficult their jobs really are, and how hard they’re working to get it right.”
It almost feels like a relief when there are fewer than 1,000 new cases announced. We know the actual new case count is higher, though. Tim Bousquet had your Sunday COVID update.
Monday, January 10
1. Morning File: What is the pandemic doing to sports — and other — reporting?
Philip Moscovitch looked at how COVID is affecting sports reporting. Sportswriters don’t have the access to athletes and coaches like they used to. That’s the same for reporters on other beats, too. As Moscovitch wrote: “Political communications have become increasingly professionalized and controlled. We go through comms people to talk to city staff. Sometimes you want to talk to the person running a project but they’ll only give you the boss instead.”
Sadly, three more Nova Scotians died from COVID-19. Tim Bousquet had the details on those deaths, plus new case numbers, hospitalizations, and more.
Tuesday, January 11
Matthew Byard had the latest in the story of ex-cop Brian Johnston, who was implicated in a lawsuit by a woman who accused Johnston of sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager. In this story, Byard learned that Johnston stepped down from his role as pastor at the Zion Baptist Church in Truro.
The Examiner has been following the outbreak at the Burnside jail. In this story, El Jones hears from the prisoners about what life is like inside during the outbreak. As Jones wrote, prisoners are always locked down, and can’t access legal calls, fresh air, exercise, or programming. There’s also a staffing shortage as guards contract COVID, too.
Matthew Byard spoke with Dr. Barb Hamilton-Hinch, who was on a new web series talking about grief and loss in the Black community. Hamilton-Hinch said: “We don’t think about loss with land, we don’t think about loss with education and culture, we don’t think about the impact of … post- traumatic slave syndrome, and how we’ve been impacted by that.”
4. Morning File: A former cop, now a preacher, is accused of sexually assaulting a young girl, but other media outlets are ignoring the story
Tim Bousquet wondered why other media outlets didn’t report on and advance the story of Brian Johnston. Bousquet wrote: “I can’t explain the media silence around this story. It makes me wonder what other stories they ignore. But this, readers, is why you should support a scrappy independent news outlet like the Halifax Examiner.” You can subscribe here.
5. Another man has died from COVID-19 in Nova Scotia; 58 hospitalized because of COVID, 616 new cases
A fourth death was announced this week. Tim Bousquet had the update.
Zane Woodford was on the council beat this week and had a couple of stories, including this one about a development for the site between Highway 111 and the Woodside Industrial Park — known as Eisner Cove Wetland — that got a vote from council. But biologists are concerned what the development will mean for the flora at the site.
The municipality’s modular housing units in Dartmouth were declared complete this week, and as Zane Woodford reported, council gave themselves a pat on the back for a job well done. Still, two of the barrier-free units in Dartmouth aren’t ready and neither are the 38 units planned for the parking lot at Centennial Pool in Halifax.
Wednesday, January 12
Jennifer Henderson looked at the bleak situations in nursing homes across the province as Omicron spreads. Twenty-five nursing homes across Nova Scotia aren’t admitting new residents because they do not have enough staff to provide care. And half a dozen long-term care homes have reported outbreaks in which staff have either tested positive or were unable to come to work because they had to self-isolate.
2. Morning File: The sick day’s new style
Ethan Lycan-Lang’s girlfriend was sick last week and together they shared a sick day with soup, naps, crosswords, and a visit to the clinic. His girlfriend is all better now, but the experience got Lycan-Lang thinking about what sick days look like in a pandemic, which then led to him thinking about all the hard work health care workers have been doing the last two years.
3. Nova Scotia COVID report, Jan. 12: one new COVID death, 60 hospitalized, 837 new cases, hospital workers stressed
A woman in her 60s who lived in Nova Scotia Health’s Western Zone was the fifth Nova Scotian to die from COVID this week, and the 117th since the start of the pandemic. Tim Bousquet had the COVID update.
Thursday, January 13
Yvette d’Entremont interviewed experts on medical assistance in dying (MAID) about the news that Nova Scotians eligible for MAID will soon have the option to self-administer. One Dalhousie professor told d’Entremont the decision to add oral protocol to MAID is “just another element in respecting autonomy.”
Matthew Byard interviewed Rajean Willis about a new web series called Our Stories Our Experiences with Rajean Willis. She told Byard her goal with the four-episode series is to raise awareness and empower Black people “to strive through it all.”
The first Scream movie was released in 1996 and Scream 5 was released on Friday. In this week’s episode of The Tideline, Tara Thorne chats with two Scream superfans — musician Trevor Murphy and filmmaker Kevin Hartford — about all things Scream.
4. Morning File: Health care workers are facing their toughest pandemic challenge yet; let’s give them the financial support they deserve
At this week’s COVID briefing, Tim Bousquet asked Premier Tim Houston if it was about time to give health care workers a raise. Houston said, “we definitely want to support our health care workers as best as we possibly can.” Bousquet wrote: “I’m not sure what that answer means, but it wasn’t a ‘yes.’”
Jennifer Henderson spent Thursday at Province House and reported back on what happened, including an increase in minimum wage by 40 cents that will kick in April 1. She also reported on what’s happening with the Yarmouth ferry, which apparently will set sail this season, and why in-school vaccinations aren’t being considered.
Tim Bousquet breaks down the hospitalization numbers in this COVID update, and provides details on average age of the patients, and average stay in hospital.
Friday, January 14
Zane Woodford kept up with the outbreak at the Burnside jail and learned that more than half of the prisoners have caught the COVID virus, which is not showing any signs of slowing down there.
2. Cops seized 11 firearms, hundreds of boxes of ammunition, and more than $130,000 in cash from Frank Eckhardt
Tim Bousquet had the latest on Frank Eckhardt. This time, Bousquet looked at court documents that detailed the reasons for a search on Eckhardt’s home on December 23, and what the RCMP seized.
3. Weekend File: The real story of Esther Cox and The Great Amherst Mystery
Last summer, Suzanne Rent heard the story about Esther Cox and The Great Amherst Mystery. In a Twitter thread, someone wondered how these old ghost stories intersected with the patriarchy. So, Rent set out to learn more. She interviewed Laurie Glenn Norris, who wrote a book about Cox and that famous poltergeist story. And there’s more to it than ghosts.
4. Defunding report calls for better Halifax police oversight, ‘detasking,’ increased spending on affordable housing
Zane Woodford reported on the takeaways from the Defunding the Police: Defining the Way Forward for HRM report, which was the work of the city’s Board of Police Commissioners Subcommittee to Define Defunding the Police, chaired by El Jones. The report also included 36 recommendations directed to the board and/or Halifax regional council, all of which fit within the “four pillars of defunding.”
Zane Woodford reported on a court decision released on Friday in which William Sandeson, who is awaiting his second trial for the murder of Taylor Samson, told jail staff he was “feeling homicidal” and “having homicidal thoughts.” In 2017, a jury convicted Sandeson of first-degree murder, but the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal later overturned that conviction.
Tim Bousquet had the Friday COVID update, which included a weekly update, and updates on outbreaks at hospitals and the Burnside jail. The update included all the vaccination and testing details, too.
7. “It is historic”: Parents to receive immediate 25% reduction in day care costs, increasing to 50% by the end of the year
In a video conference on Friday, the province along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, announced eligible parents and caregivers will save 25% on child care fees retroactive from Jan. 1, and 50% by year’s end. Christine Saulnier, who is the director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS), told Yvette d’Entremont she was cautiously optimistic about the decision, and said “we just want to not lose the bigger picture and ensure that it’s being done and rolled out the right way.”